When parents go through the divorce process in Maryland, one of the most important issues you must address is child custody and visitation. In general, courts favor both parents participating in important decision-making, which the laws refer to as legal custody. For practical purposes, the child will primarily live with one parent, while the other has the right to physical custody – which is now known as parenting time, and what you might know as visitation. Under Maryland court rules on parenting plans, parties will address these issues as early as their first appearance.
Parents are encouraged to agree on a parenting plan or work out the details via mediation, but a judge will make a decision if the parties cannot reach a compromise. Regardless of how the parenting plan develops, the terms are legally binding. There are serious consequences for violating the conditions, so you might be surprised if you encounter such misconduct with your child’s co-parent. Fortunately, there are remedies for dealing with violations of parenting plans, and a Maryland divorce attorney is a valuable asset in pursuing them.
Common Ways Co-Parents Violate Parenting Plans
There are many reasons or underlying factors when a parent breaches the custody and visitation arrangement, ranging from spite or bitterness to carelessness. Regardless of the motivation, this misconduct impacts your rights as a parent; from a practical standpoint, disruptions are also inconvenient and annoying. You might have a difficult time spotting parenting plan violations if you are trying to be forgiving or understanding, or simply want to avoid confrontation. However, it is important to recognize such problems as:
- Being late for drop-offs or pick-ups;
- Interrupting your parenting time, such as communicating with the child via phone or texts;
- Excuses and last-minute changes in plans when it comes to visitation;
- Not complying with right of first refusal provisions in your parenting plan;
- Relocating with the child without consent or court approval; and,
- Many others.
What to Do About Parenting Plan Violations
You have multiple options for addressing severe or repeated breaches by your child’s other parent, and you may find some success without going to court. Through your respective attorneys, you may be able to resolve differences by agreement. In other cases, it may be necessary to bring parenting plan violations to the court’s attention. The process begins by filing a petition that includes:
- Specific provisions that the co-parent has violated;
- Evidence of the violations; and,
- A request that the court take designated action, such as changing the visitation schedule.
Keep in mind that you can also ask the judge to impose sanctions if your child’s other parent continues engaging in misconduct. The court’s order has the effect of law, so violations may constitute contempt.
Count on a Baltimore County, MD Divorce Attorney to Assist With Your Remedies
For more information on what to do about violations of your Maryland parenting plan, please contact attorney William F. Mulroney to set up a consultation. We can set up a consultation to review your circumstances and determine the best strategy for moving forward.